First DACA ‘Dreamer’ deported under Trump Administration stands in court

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The first known "Dreamer" to be deported under the Trump Administration, despite being protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, is suing the federal government for his right to stay in the United States.

Juan Manuel Montes, 23, argues he was unlawfully removed from the country in the dead of the night Feb.19, after immigration officials detained him near the border in Calexico, California. The immigration officials argue Montes was caught trying to re-enter the U.S., and they say that means he voluntarily left the country and forfeited his DACA protection.

He sued the federal government in April after immigration agencies refused to provide any information to explain why he was deported. In July, attorneys representing Montes submitted declarations and other evidence that prove Montes was unlawfully removed. They are asking the court to order his immediate return to the U.S., his only home.

The hearing was held Tuesday and will continue Wednesday at the U.S. District Court Southern District of California. The judge overseeing the case is U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. He’s the one who oversaw the Trump University lawsuit and the one who then-candidate Donald Trump blasted as biased because of his Mexican heritage. Curiel’s decision could become a national symbol of the fight over DACA’s future. 

Curiel will decide Wednesday whether he will set a trial and order the Dept. of Homeland Security to return Montes immediately. 

DACA protects undocumented youth who were brought here as young children. Under DACA, they can defer deportation for at least two years, get a work permit and enroll in school. In Montes’s case, he was brought to California at the age of 9-years-old and knows no other country but the U.S. 

Montes is represented by the National Immigration Law Center, Covington and Burling LLP, the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin, and the Law Offices of Belinda Escobosa Helzer.

Categories: Local San Diego News